Skip to main content

Suspended, Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project should be fully withdrawn


By Bharat Dogra
There has been a great surge of united actions by tribal communities against the Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project following which the central government and the Gujarat state government have suspended the project for the time-being. Apart from protests by tribal communities, the fact that the Congress party has extended its support to the opposition of this river-link project and that assembly elections are due in the near future must have also weighed with the governments while suspending work on this project.
Under this project three rivers are to be linked—the Par, the Tapi and the Narmada, using 7 dams, three diversion weirs, two tunnels and a 395 km. long canal. Six dams are to be constructed in Gujarat and one in Maharashtra.
However the most reported aspect of this project recently has been the the big and united opposition by tribal communities who have formed struggle committees for various dams and regions. They have asserted that they want a more real commitment from the union and the state government ( Gujarat) that the project will not be taken up in future at all. The Congress party has taken a similar stand.
Behind this demand of the tribal communities of Gujarat is a history of much suffering caused by displacement and other problems, loss of home, forests and farmland, related to several projects in the past. Apart from displacement, there is the longer-term contentious issue of what changes river-links will bring. There is a tendency on the part of the authorities to rush ahead without going deeper into the almost irreversible problems they may be unleashing. In this context the entire thinking about the entire river-link project is deeply problematic. The Tapi-Par-Narmada or the Ken-Betwa link projects are after all only sub-projects of the giant national river-links project which is going ahead with redrawing the river geography of India without giving much thought at all to a comprehensive understanding of how harmful in almost irreversible ways this may be to ecology, people, biodiversity and various habitats. The reasons why such projects are being rushed also need to be discussed.
In the present context of Par-Tapi-Narmada link again the transfer of water to water deficit areas of Saurashtra and Kutch is being discussed. But did we not hear this at the time of the Sardar Sarovar project also, which involved such huge submergence, displacement as well as other ecological and social costs. Surely the transfer of water achieved by this gigantic water project should have been adequate, but no, there is this other project too within a short period. So someone should explain very clearly what are the overall water needs of this deficit area, what was provided by Sardar Sarovar and what is sought from the new project. Very inconvenient questions are likely to be raised in the process of seeking an honest answer to this question. Secondly, what about the surplus water region from where the water is to be transferred? Are the people here satisfied that they have surplus water to transfer?
In the first river-link project known as the Ken-Betwa project these questions have been discussed and debated over a longer time-span and some very inconvenient truths about the total confusion in official thinking regarding what is surplus and deficit have been revealed. A river (Ken) which has been much harmed by sand mining and other factors over the recent years and which is badly depleted during the lean season to a considerable extent is being identified in this project as the surplus river from whom water is sought to be transferred. In fact the entire question is also related not just to water flows per se but also to the extent of the exploitation of water resources. An area which has gone in a big way for industry and commercial water-intensive farming can be shown to be deficit or needing more water, while an area which has been cautious about not overexploiting its water resources can be shown to be more abundant in terms of water resources. So with huge water transfer and river link schemes are we set on rewarding over-exploiters at the expense of cautious users. Then there is the question of who will suffer from all the adverse impacts of dams, not just displacement. Are the impacts on fish and other life-forms in rivers and river-bank areas even being considered? A project like Sardar Sarovar was constructed in the name of augmenting water supply, but in coastal areas it can lead to push-in or ingress of salinity, in turn reducing water for drinking and other essential needs. The Ken-Betwa link is being pushed in the name of removing water scarcity, but it will start with axing more than 2.3 million trees, and each tree as we all know is a valuable conserver of water.
The more money we waste on these dubious, highly questionable but very costly water projects such as the river link sub-projects, the less resources we have for smaller scale, low-costs genuine water conservation work taken up with close involvement of people which does not have any adverse impacts but makes highly cost-effective, employment generating, livelihood protecting contribution to protecting and enhancing water resources. So clearly there is a need to question the way the authorities are going ahead in water projects and the tribal communities of Gujarat have done well to bring a highly questionable project to a halt.

The writer is Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include "Man over Machine" and "India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food"

Comments

TRENDING

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Not my burden of shame: Malaysia's apathy in tackling problem of sexual harassment

By Jeswan Kaur*  "There was no such thing as child abuse. Parents owned their children. They could do whatever they wanted." -- actress Ellen Burstyn Condemning, judging and humiliating - it this the very nature of people in general or is this what Malaysians are best known for? When a 15-year-old actress recently made a damning revelation that she was molested as a child by her perverted father, support was far from coming. Instead, many name shamed Puteri Nuraaina Balqis, calling her "stupid" and rebuking her for seeking cheap publicity by insulting her father. They "advised" her to pray more, "be thankful to her father for bringing her into this world and remember that she would be given something by Allah for insulting her father." Would any of those who condemned Puteri Balqis "enjoy" being molested, raped or sexually harassed? Would they fancy calling their house a sanctuary when safety was no where in sight? Do these insensitive

Trying to tell a rooted story: Decolonial imagery, Brahmastra and Pushpa’s Srivalli

By Gautam Bisht*  I recently watched Brahmastra and I feel the film is a nice illustration of the disastrous turn good intentions may take. The film is trying to tell a rooted story, about ‘astras’ using high quality VFX (whatever that is) but comes across as cringe. With no dearth of awkward moments in the film, my personal favorite are scenes where Shiva is touching the feet of his elders. The film just manages to make regular everyday actions look bizarre and alien. It’s the kind of film that can make even right-wing people feel disappointed in tradition. One way to explain this, is the paradox of decoloniality. If you don't know what decoloniality is, it may just mean that you are doing some interesting stuff in life. But as someone interested in social science, I have to work with such concepts. Simply put, decoloniality cannot be explained simply. One has to go through some dense and convoluted spaces to get there. It’s like scoring weed for the first time in Delhi. You would